Traditional Briefs are Y-shaped front fly, about four inches of fabric that covers everything from the waist to the upper thighs and butt is fully covered. Mid rise briefs rest about two inches below the waist and low rise briefs rest three inches below the waist. These styles are best suited for low rise jeans. Briefs are best for jobs that require sitting down the whole day or physical activities.
In the case of men’s underwear, briefs, unlike boxer shorts, hold the wearer’s genitals in a relatively fixed position, which makes briefs a popular underwear choice for men who are participating in athletic activities or who feel they need more support than loose-fitting underwear can provide. In addition, boxers often ride up the body when the wearer is running.
Briefs were first sold on January 19, 1935 by Coopers, Inc., in Chicago, Illinois. They dubbed the new undergarment the “Jockey” because it offered a similar degree of support as the jockstrap (one style of which is also called Jock brief or Support briefs). Thirty-thousand pairs were sold within three months of their introduction. In North America, “Jockey shorts” or “Jockeys” is often used as a generic term for men’s briefs.
In the United Kingdom, briefs were first sold in 1938. Soon, shops were selling 3,000 briefs per week. They were so popular that in 1948, every member of the British Olympic team was given a free pair of briefs.
In Britain, the term “jockeys” has not caught on and briefs are often referred to as “Y-fronts”. The term derives from the inverted Y-shape formed by the seams at the front of the underpants which allows easy access to the penis for urination. The colloquialism is used even when the fly opening may differ in style, and not actually form the shape of the inverted letter “Y” fly on Cooper Jockey brand briefs.
In Australia, briefs are referred to as “jocks”, but should not be confused with jockstraps (more specifically used by athletes) which expose the buttocks. Australians generally use the word briefs to refer to the bikini-style underwear for men, which do not have the Y-front opening.
In recent years, a hybrid called boxer briefs has become popular. Like boxers, they have short legs, but like briefs, they are made of elastic, snug-fitting material. A shorter version of boxer briefs are called trunks.